Teaching research: Developing a research disposition

Background: Competency in such research skills as evaluating and applying research in practice is a core component of research training of contemporary osteopathic curricula. However, research training also needs to develop graduates who enter practice with an inquiring attitude and who can identify research questions that derive from clinical practice. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent to which a research disposition was cultivated in a five year osteopathic curriculum in Australia.

Method: Two data collection methods were used: a review of the research capabilities embedded in the osteopathic curriculum, and a series of semi-structured interviews with final year students and practising osteopaths.

Results: Research competencies in the osteopathic curriculum focused on the development of skills for locating, appraising and applying research findings in practice. There was little evidence that students’ and practitioners’ research education had cultivated a research disposition that could be carried into clinical practice.

Conclusion: If clinical practice is to be understood as generative of research questions that can turn practice knowledge into theory, then the focus of research education needs to include the development of a research disposition. Strengthening collaborations between universities and practising osteopaths is one strategy that can strengthen our understanding of practice as a research space.

Dr Sandra Grace is a Senior Lecture in the School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Australia. She has been a practising osteopath for 25 years. Her research interests include integrative medicine, interprofessional education and practice, and practice-based education. Sandra also holds an Adjunct Research Associate at the Education for Practice Institute, Charles Sturt University, Australia.